The final chapter, “Wolf Days,” opens with a comment on a centering exercise before moving into what Fitz recalls of his experiences as a wolf, inhabiting Nighteyes’s body beside him, as well as his musings about the life of a wolf, generally. He resists being summoned back to his body by Burrich, who has exhumed him and cradles the now-barely-living thing in his arms.
In the brief epilogue, Fitz rehearses his situation at that point. Only Burrich and Chade know he lives. What else would have been his life is in ruins. Regal is crowned and ascends to power, and Fitz purposes to head inland, following Verity and Kettricken even as he chafes against the structures of fealty that compel him so.
It is clear that the book sets up for a sequel, as should be no surprise; a person isn’t brought back from the dead for nothing, after all. In the specifics, though, Hobb takes what would normally be a joyous event and twists it to be the traditional ending of a trilogy’s second part; the protagonist is in a terrible position, one that could be argued is worse than being dead. Then again, such a position leaves much room for improvement of circumstances. Whether the next volume offers such resolution, though, remains to be seen–at least in the reread. The book’s been out for a while, and it makes for good reading…
Given the time of year, too, there is a bit of obvious symbolism here. Fitz is presented as being something like a messiah, but not quite one. The whole dying and coming back bit is one clear motion towards that point. The resurrection being associated with the chapter number, 33, does, too. So, too, does Patience’s claiming Fitz’s body, as related in the epilogue, which echoes the Biblical report of how Jesus’s corpse is treated after crucifixion. Like many other tropes, though, the messianic one is altered and nuanced as it applies to Fitz; he is not the product of a virgin birth, nor is he yet a shining exemplar of conduct, though he does seem to be persecuted. How effective a savior he is or can be can also be argued.
I look forward to seeing such, and maybe to moving into them as the reread progresses.